Knife Money is the large, cast, bronze knife-shaped commodity money produced by various Ancient Chinese Kingdoms dating back to approximately 2500 years. They appear to have been in usage during the Zhou Dynasty with myths circulating its origins to a prince who ran low on money and allowed the usage of knives as a form of currency. They could have also been brought by sea traders from the Indian Ocean. Knife money evolved throughout the various dynasties in China. Ming knives are generally of a smaller size with straighter tips, featuring a range of characters or numerals, much like this knife. They are identifiable as they all share an old reading of the ‘eye’ like character placed on one side, the true meaning of this character remains uncertain.
Ming Dynasty Bronze Knife Money
A finely cast bronze knife money dating from the Ming Dynasty. The knife’s handle is narrow with raised parallel ribs in relief, and is fitted at the top with a suspension ring. The curved rectangular blade is flat and featuring a single Chinese character at the centre of the lower section. The blade ends with a slanted wedge-shaped point and beautiful green patination covers the surface.
Period: Ming Dynasty
Provenance: From a Surrey gentleman's collection (DG) formed 1990's onward
Condition: Very fine condition. Green patination covers surface. Slight crack to suspension loop.